Living a Life of Purity:

As Americans we care a lot about purity in some areas and in others we could care less. We want pure air to breathe, pure water to drink and pure food to eat. But, we’re not concerned about having pure minds and moral purity. We allow almost anything into our minds, watch anything that is perverted or violent without changing the channels. In the comfort of our homes we can access pornography, premarital sex, adultery, homosexual sex and any kind of perversion via computer, tv and phone.

Whether married or singleevery one of us is plagued by temptations arising from the world, the flesh and the Devil- to give into sin and sexual immorality. I want to specifically address why and how you as singles can and should commit whole-heartedly to live a life of purity and specifically a life of sexual purity.

Statistics: According to U.S. News & World Report, web surfers spent $970 million on pornographic websites in 1998, a figure that is expected to rise to more than $3 billion by 2003. One researcher estimates that 60 million Americans have visited sexually explicit web sites. Tragically, the percentage of Christian men involved is not much different than that of the unsaved. According to most surveys, at least 17% of Christians regularly view pornography. The Internet has made the raunchiest sexual images available at a click of the mouse in the privacy of one’s home or office.

"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people." Eph 5:3 NIV

Ten Mistaken Beliefs Singles have about sex and purity:


1. Sex is a dirty word- a shameful act...
Wrong - Sexuality is innate. It is God-given – integral to our identity as image-bearers of God. Gen 1:27 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." God made up the whole idea of sex providing the context for it to be experienced – within a loving, heterosexual marriage relationship. Gen 2:24-25 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."
The drive to be completed sexually is part of our make-up. But, sex outside of marriage is a poor substitute for the real thing God made it to be and will result in feelings of dirtiness, guilt and shame.

2. Sexual purity is an impossible dream…
Wrong again. If God calls for a standard to be lived out – when a person surrenders his/her life to Christ - it must be possible. Sexual purity is possible when God is in control of your life… when you are living for His purpose. R. Warren writes: “knowing your purpose simplifies your life. It defines what you do and what you don’t do. Your purpose becomes the standard you use to evaluate which activities are essential and which aren’t. You simply ask, ‘Does this activity help me fulfill one of God’s purposes for my life?”
Without a clear purpose you have no foundation on which you base decisions, allocate your time, and use your resources. You will tend to make choices based on circumstances, pressures, and your mood at that moment.”

1 Cor 6:18-20 "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

Gal 5:22-24 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."

3. God won’t hold it against me if I commit this kind of sin…
God’s plan for purity is integral to a life of faith.....It’s not an option. A Christian who is living in immorality is sinning against God - this sin will cause a rift with God.
Col 3:5-7 "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming."

4. What I dwell on doesn’t hurt anyone. I only thought about having sex with that woman/man – so that doesn’t count…
Matt 5:28-29 "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

5. Marriage is a panacea and the answer for living a life of purity…
Statistics prove otherwise - - “Kerby Anderson reports that: “adultery is becoming more common, and researchers are finding that women are as likely as men to have an affair. A 1983 study found that 29 percent of married people under 25 had had an affair with no statistical difference between the number of men and women who chose to be unfaithful to their spouses early in life.{2} By comparison, only 9 percent of spouses in the 1950s under the age of 25 had been involved in extramarital sex. Another study concluded that by age 40 about 50 to 65 percent of husbands and 45 to 55 percent of wives become involved in an extramarital affair.{3}” Conservative estimates are that 60% of men and 40% of women will have an extramarital affair. …
Purity is a struggle for everyone and a calling for everyone. Self-control is necessary for the married and unmarried throughout life to restrain all passions- greed, lust, power, etc.

6. God doesn’t care about me or I would be married and not have this struggle…
then, God didn’t care about Paul and doesn’t care about 50 or more percent of the population. US census figures show singles represent 51% of the US population. This mistaken belief is based on a false belief about God’s plan for your life – whether He is good and has your good in mind. Do you believe that God has your best interests in mind? How might His plan for your life correspond with His greater purposes?

7. I’m defective and a failure because I’m not married.
Not true! Singles have the opportunity to be more devoted to the Lord as Paul wrote in 1 Cor 7:8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.
1 Cor 7:32-35 "I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs-how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world-how he can please his wife- and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world-how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord."

8. Sex will give me what I need: intimacy and love..
Yes, sex outside of marriage will probably give you something but it won’t be intimacy and love – it will be stds, pregnancy, emotional turmoil, insecurity, fear, guilt and more!

9. God’s Standards are too high…
yes and no! We are called to live holy lives but, He will provide the power to live purity out. 1 Thess 4:3-7
It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable…

10. Sex is the ultimate experience and God is punishing those of us who are single by saying we can’t indulge
 – The Westminster Catechism asks: What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Loving God and loving others is the ultimate experience and the purpose God made us for. 1 Cor 6:13-14 "The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body."

Holding on to any one of these mistaken beliefs will undermine our commitment to purity..

What are some key trends regarding singles and sexual purity?
In an interview with Steve Tracy, professor of theology and ethics at Phoenix Seminary – a specialist in sexual issues, he says: “In many cases, singles have been redefining what sex is and what's appropriate. What I'm seeing played out is a depersonalization of human beings through sexual behaviors and practices. The divine intent is total intimacy. It's to know as opposed to lie with. "To lie with" is an Old Testament phrase for inappropriate sexual behavior. However, in the Genesis context it's yada—"to know"—a beautiful term for complete sharing, not just of bodies but of souls.
What we're seeing more of in relationships among Christian singles—as well as non-Christians, of course—is false intimacy. There's the offer of what on the surface is real intimacy through pornography or oral sex outside of marriage, but it's short circuiting the real thing. It's not total body or soul sharing.
We live in a culture where our leaders, from the president on down, are redefining what sex is. And of course, in a hypersexualized culture, singles understandably are sometimes quick to latch on to those redefinitions. It seems to give them new freedom.
In all of this, we're seeing Christian young people, who are increasingly depersonalized in their relationships, experience less and less true intimacy.”

The Calling to Purity: 1 Tim 4:12 "..Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." NIV 1 Thess. 4:7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

You can live your Life:
I. fully devoted to faith in Christ
II. committed to loving others
III. dedicated to purity.
Notice that the love, the faith in this verse precedes “purity”. These goals are the high standards Christ calls all Christians to!
How would you respond to someone who says “I don’t have the gift of purity!”
Celibacy is a gift – purity is a mandate and a calling for all Christians.
In America – the home of the free and the brave -you will be ridiculed if you tout purity, morality and values. You’ll be called rigid, intolerant, self-righteous and if you accidentally reveal you are a Christian – you’ll be called a Bible thumper. We live in a society where it’s worse to judge evil than to do it. (Os Guinness). Where evil is called good and good is called evil.
Yet some people are trying to make the right choices….“5/21/04 Most teenagers are choosing abstinence, according to a government report released Thursday. Nationally, 53 percent of high schoolers said in 2003 that they were virgins, up from 46 percent in 1991, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance survey.
Since "True Love Waits" began in 1993, more than 2.4 million youth signed their pledge card and made a commitment to save sex for marriage. This includes signing a statement which reads, "Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, those I date, and my future mate to be sexually pure until the day I enter marriage." One 1997 study finds that by the age of 20 abstinence declines- 24% of gals and 20 % of guys have not had sexual intercourse.
The question comes to mind- does abstinence = purity? Not really. Purity is the state of being free from sin and moral wrong. A way of life – a way of thinking.. Purity is not some-thing you do, it's something you are! Keeping yourself pure – virtuous, chaste, spotless. Purity means being set apart for God’s use, which is holiness in action.

What is impurity?
1 Peter 2:11 “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” Peter describes Impurity is any sinful desire which wars against our souls. In “Every Man’s Battle Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker write: “Impurity is a habit.” They go on to say that impurity is “any sexual gratification which comes from outside the marriage bond”.

What impurity is not: sexual impurity does not include a victim of sexual abuse or rape. Victims will feel a false sense of shame and guilt, a sense of dirtiness… but, this is not true guilt and shame. They need to work through these issues. Impure acts imposed on a victim does not make that victim impure.

How important is purity to the Christian?
What happens when we live impure and sexually immoral lives? (from these verses) How does it affect our relationship with God?

1 Thess 4:3-8 " It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life."
Col 3:5-10 "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."

An email from a struggler:
-Hi Counselor,
I could really do with your help at this moment in time. I have been in a long term relationship with my girlfriend now for over a year. Now as time has gone by, we are used to exploring each others bodies….. One night, my girlfriend stayed over my house and we slept together. I am very confused and feel as if i have betrayed the lord by us doing this against him. I really love my girlfriend and sexual intercourse means love to me and my girlfriend & I do use protection. we are sensible young adults and do not do anything that is not safe.
Please help me, im now frightened to touch my girlfriend in case everytime i do, im betraying the lord. God Bless,

Answer: This incident describes the inner turmoil of the believer who is living in sexual immorality.. it creates a rift between him and God, weighs heavily on his conscience - quenches the Holy Spirit – and defiles.

What costs are involved on the road to purity?
-- resisting sexual temptation-- engaging in a spiritual battle to overcome the hormones and sinful desires raging within us. Paul writes about his personal struggle with sin in – Rom 7:18-25 "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
-- admitting & confessing impurity, turning away from it and turning to Christ. You say – impossible. It apparently is a choice since Peter writes: "abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul." 1 Peter 2:11
-- broken relationships… “hello, I just left a relationship with my boyfriend. I was in love with him and had been dating him for four months until we broke up. What caused the break-up was a phone call from my best friend who admitted that she had sex with my boyfriend 2 months before. Of course this devastated me because we had agreed that we were going to wait until marriage. No I feel so betrayed not only by my ex but also by my friend (I have known her for years and she was like a sister). I don’t know if I can ever forgive my ex, but I do know that I will never take him back. As for my friend, I still do not know about her. I really miss having a best friend though and I do not know how to get through this. If you could please give me some advice on how to get through this, I would really appreciate it.”
-- doing the opposite of what you feel like doing… “When you decide to live a totally surrendered life to Christ, that decision will be tested. It will mean doing inconvenient, unpopular, costly, or seemingly impossible tasks.” R. Warren
Pornography Struggler-I got this pc for my birthday this year. I was searching and found a porn site.(I was searching for something else however).I took a look became hooked. I have been searching for weeks now.I want to stop but when i get tempted its like something takes over. I cant stop myself, I want to stop more than anything....I just cant. I dont know what to do. Later,
Impurity may offer temporary satisfaction but results in long-term dissatisfaction- even addiction... damages us personally, breaks relationship with God and others

Purity, on the other hand, satisfies, strengthens, builds up & helps us live our lives fully devoted to Christ…..

The Commitment to Sexual Purity:
Ten Life-Changing Principles and truths about Sexual Purity:
1. Sex is a God-given gift which is only protected and enjoyed within the covenant of marriage where there is commitment, love and trust between a man and woman.
2. No one has perfected the area of sexual purity – we all stumble – we can choose it. Growing in purity is part of the sanctification process.
3. Christ can and will forgive those who sin in this area. Christ gives us a fresh start.
4. God instills a deeper desire for purity as we grow in our faith and walk with Him.
5. Christ gives the power to overcome impurity, lust, temptation.
6. The single Christian life is very fulfilling when lived out for Christ and purity.
7. Living for Christ will result in a life of purity – a deeper relationship with Him, deeper sense of dignity, love for others, greater ability to serve and worship God.
8. When we fall into temptation – we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus. 1 John 2:1
9. Sex outside of marriage, pornography, etc.– only destroys us and others.
10. Self-control to attain sexual purity is possible! You can resolve to remain sexually pure through studying the Word, daily surrender to Christ, accountability to others and prayer.

In Sex and the Single Person, Bob DeMoss responds to Ann Landers who wrote “for some, abstinence is not a realistic alternative. Self-control is certainly a virtue, but unfortun-ately, it often fails when confronted with the urge to merge.” DeMoss’ response: “Permit me a healthy gag, Ann.” He insists that singles can indeed maintain abstinence if they so desire. Sex is not an overpowering force that manipulates us like mindless pawns on a chessboard. People do have self-control.”

1 Thess 5:8 reads, "But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet."

Strategies for a life of purity:
Let’s look at some scriptures about living a life of purity…
Ps 119:9-11 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Phil 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.
1 Cor 2:16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?"
But we have the mind of Christ.
Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
1 Peter 1:13-16 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
What do these verses teach us about how to live a life of purity?
Our minds, choices, heart, behavior must be turned over to Christ. C.S. Lewis wrote: "Relying on God must begin again everyday as if nothing had ever been done"..
1 Tim. 1:7 “God has not given us a spirit of fear but, a Spirit of power, love and self-control.” Purity is the result of a life turned over to Christ who changes us from the inside-out. “If you don’t surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos.” E. Stanley Jones
and you become a slave to sin.

Pastor Ray gave this sermon: Abstain! 1 Thess 4:3-8 in 1996:
It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. NIV

Pastor Ray writes: “Let me share some practical guidelines for dealing with sexual temptation.
1. Know your limits.
2. Stay out of questionable areas.
3. Don’t fight the battle alone.
4. Don’t make excuses.
5. Be honest about your problem.
6. Trace the cycle of lust in your life.
7. Remember who you are.”
In other words, remember that you are human and prone to sin so that you will rely on Jesus Christ to give you the victory!

More guidelines/strategies for living a pure life:
1. Set healthy Boundaries: with others, with places, entertainment, with the computer, with the tv, etc.
2. Take steps to flee and prevent temptation: 1 Cor 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. 2 Tim 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace,
Every Man's Battle talks about knowing your triggers and avoiding these if possible.
3. Regularly confess and accept God’s grace and forgiveness in Christ. James 5:16
4. Grow in safe, healthy relationships to fill your longings for connection and love.
5. View purity as a blessing and a calling from God to become more like Him.
6. Make a covenant with God and yourself not to give in to lustful thoughts and desires.

Purity starts - in the head and heart.
“ Job makes a covenant not to lust in Job 31:1 - "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.”
When couples marry they make a vow to remain faithful to one another until death. You may want to consider making a commitment between you and God to remain sexually pure similar to this:
“ Dear Lord Jesus, believing that You have the best plan for my life– as a single, I make a commitment to You, myself, my family and those I date to remain sexually pure and wholly devoted to you.” Renew this commitment every six months or every year.
7. Be accountable to another Christian who supports your values and goals in the area of purity.

Questions: What if you or someone you know has fallen into sexual immorality, pornography, etc? Admit it! Turn to Christ, repent and seek His forgiveness. Forgiveness is always available – and an on-going process for us all. Every Christian struggles with sin. God is a forgiving God- Our God is a God of new beginnings…

1 John 1:8-2:2
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
NIV

Q: How can singles decrease sexual temptation and tension?
In a chapter called How to Handle those Hormones by Bob DeMoss (remained sexually abstinent until his late thirties when he married) from Sex and the Single Person…
Bob writes: know your bottom line, communicate your position, stick by your convictions, avoid compromising circumstances, bolt like a bat.

Other ways: exercise, prayer, work on a project, cold showers and stress relievers.

Q: What about questionable practices to relieve sexual tension like masturbation? What does the Bible teach about masturbation?

Dear Counselor, I came across your forum while doing a random search on the web. I am a christian girl currently in my late teens and I hope that you will be able to help as I'm really desperate. I've been mastubating since I was a child (I'm not even sure how it began)... and while knowing that it is wrong and a sin against God, I'm so hooked to this habit, that I'm unable to stop doing it. I would like to know whether my addiction to mastubation came out of any past sexual abuse as a child but I've no recollection whatsoever of being abused sexually. Secondly, I hope that you can offer advice as to how I can stop mastubating and fantasising. Although I'm a believer, I feel really defeated by this secret sin. Thank you for your patience in reading this and your help.

Answer: Masturbation may not be specifically mentioned in the Bible, but, these scriptures teach principles which can be applied to any questionable practice/habit/behavior in life:

1 Cor 6:12-14 "Everything is permissible for me"-but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"-but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"-but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. NIV

2 Peter 2:18-19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity-for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. NIV
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Rom 14:19
It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. Rom 14:21
But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin .Rom 14:23
We can ask questions about any practice, behavior or thought- such as:
1. Does this tempt me to sin?
2. Does this bother my conscience?
3. Is it addictive?
4. Is this practice idolatrous?
5. Is it harmful?
6. How does this glorify God? Does it lead someone else to sin?

In summary, you may feel trapped by sexual impurity or other impurity in your life. I invite you to confess that sin to Christ – to know that you are forgiven and to commit yourself fully to Him so that you can access power to live a life of love and purity. You may struggle with one of the mistaken beliefs and question what God’s will is for your life. I invite to talk with someone – to pray and ask God for renewed faith despite the circumstances of your life. Take a risk and commit yourself to His plan for your life.
I leave you with this question: What are you missing out on by not living your life wholly for Christ and for purity?
Phil 1:9-11 reads: "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God."
1 Thess 5:19-28 "Do not put out the Spirit's fire…Test everything.. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." NIV
© copyright 2004 by Lynette Hoy, NCC, LCPC 

Resources:
Overcomers Outreach, Inc: 1-800-310-3001; 1-714-491-3000, Anaheim, CA
Pure Intimacy: addressing online sexual temptation. A Focus on the Family resource.